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Did Your French Ancestor Attend the Ecole Navale?



 The Ecole Navale is the French Naval Academy. As with those of other nations, it is the training institution for naval officers. From 1830 until the Allied Bombing obliterated it, it was located at Brest and is now not very far away in Lanvéoc. Clever and well-connected boys, and now girls too, study all that is needed to know of things naval, from mathematics to naval aeronautics. It is probably a great loss, but we doubt that they still learn to swim perched on a camp stool, as above. In the tradition of the grandes écoles, they have a nickname - they are called bordaches - and, like all sailors everywhere, their own slang, which is called l'argot Baille, and into which we are far too circumspect to delve. If you suspect that your ancestor may have attended the school, it is now possible to search the names of many of the students online.

The Espace Tradition de l'Ecole Navale website is the baby of one, clearly dedicated, man, Jean-Christophe Rouxel. It is not bad at all. It contains among its pages a history of the academy and lots of well-presented illustrations and newspaper clippings. For the genealogist, the treat is the section entitled "Anciens élèves", or past students. Clicking on that brings you to a page with the alphabet at the top. Click on the letter of the surname you seek to get a list.

Anciens eleves

Most of the 7,200 names are taken from a published book, the Dictionnaire des marins français, as M. Rouxel freely admits. The rest come from the hard work and sharing of others passionate about the subject. The entries are, for the most part, impressive, giving:

  • Full name
  • Date and place of birth and death
  • Career history
  • A photo or painting
  • Newspaper clippings
  • Links

Biographical dictionaries are expensive and exhaust the authors before their contents become truly exhaustive (we know because we are working on one ourself). This website, being free, is a treat for anyone with an amiral or even a lieutenant de vaisseau in the French family tree.


©2013 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy